DADE CITY — Water topped the list of five priorities for Dade City commissioners at their 2011-12 budget workshop Tuesday.
Trumping citizen requests for improved parking, youth programs and a community center, the focus shifted to antiquated water wells, repairing roads, cleaning blighted neighborhoods and structural improvements to the Police Department building.
Commissioners considered the predicted costs and potential revenue streams in preparation for two September hearings when the budget is established for the next fiscal year.
Prior to any improvements to the two failing water wells, Orange Valley to the south and Tank Hill to the north, an independent consultant is needed to evaluate the scope of the problems and to review a 2006 master plan for solutions.
"Have you ever been downtown during a summer gully washer?" asked City Attorney Karla Owens. "Drainage is terrible. It's time to address that along with flooding neighborhoods.
"An engineering plan will be finished soon to provide proposed outlets and retention areas."
Commissioners hope that a spring 2012 community development grant from the state can offset costs to pave and improve city roads.
City Engineer Lenny Naeyaert has independently designed a resurfacing and seal deal.
With estimated costs of paving close to $1,000 per linear foot, impacted citizens may need to share the expenses.
City Manager Bill Poe proposed a long term goal to complete two roads per year.
Lifelong Dade City resident Bermice Matthis prompted a discussion of blighted neighborhoods with a plea to "clean up the jungle" growth surrounding her home. Ms. Matthis received a promise for relief.
Beyond that, demolition and maintenance of condemned properties are the responsibility of the Building Department, which systematically patrols areas for code enforcement violators.
"Property owners are given 60 days to demolish or rehab these sites," Owens said. "If the codes aren't met, we attach a tax assessment through the Property Appraiser and Tax Collector's offices."
Structural improvements to the Dade City police headquarters were requested by Chief Ray Velboom, whose goal is to meet federal standards for police department accreditation.
"We need more space and video cameras in holding cells," Velboom said.
Commissioner Curtis Beebe offered that city land adjacent to the police station may be utilized to "throw up some temporary buildings." Velboom admitted that his goals are tough to meet, "but I'm getting tired of the Band-Aids."